Food Dehydrator

Food Dehydrator

Food Dehydrator

A food dehydrator is essentially an oven.

However unlike a conventional oven it’s a low temperature oven.

Why do they call it a food dehydrator?
Because it’s designed to draw out the moisture from food. To dry it out.

Why would you want to dry out your food?
Because certain foods that have been sufficiently dried out will be able to preserve without freezing or refrigeration. Foods that have been properly dried with a dehydrator will retain most of their nutrients.

How does a food dehydrator work?
It’s an enclosed space that typically contains food trays, a heater, a circulating fan, adjustable temperature control, and possibly a On/Off timer.

Typical operating temperatures are as follows:

125 ℉ (Vegetables)
135 ℉ (Fruits)
155 ℉ (Jerkey)

My Food Dehydrator:
Excalibur Food Dehydrator


Good Use For A Food Dehydrator

To save money on groceries
To preserve foods without refrigeration

How? By purchasing certain foods while they’re on sale.

While you might ordinarily do this anyway (buy foods while they’re on sale), ‘fresh’ foods require near immediate consumption or refrigeration or freezing for later.

One option is to dehydrate fresh foods. No subsequent refrigeration required. However you will need to store the product in an air-tight environment for longest shelf life. We use canning jars for this.

A side benefit of dehydrating foods: Building up a food storage inventory that doesn’t require electricity to maintain.

Examples of Food Dehydrator Foods

Example: You’re in the grocery store and you notice that frozen broccoli is on sale. You might grab a handful of bags and subsequently dehydrate them rather than keeping in your freezer. Although we have two chest freezers, we’ve done this on occasion with certain frozen vegetables. It works!

Example: My favorite onion goes on sale during a particular time of the year (Vidalia). I buy a lot of them, slice them, and dehydrate them! Enough for the rest of the year!
More: Dehydrated Onions For My Food Storage

Example: Your Kale is growing like crazy in your garden. You can’t eat it all in time. Dehydrate some and make Kale Chips!
More: Kale Chips: Dehydrate & Make Your Own

Example: Thanksgiving has come and gone and the grocery stores have put Cranberries on sale! Buy some and dehydrate!
More: How To Dehydrate Cranberries

Example: Those delicious strawberries are in season. They’re so good! Buy a whole bunch of them and dehydrate for mouth watering snacks at any time later on…
More: When Strawberries Are In Season, Get Out The Food Dehydrator

Example: Got an apple tree? Or do you have a favorite apple? That’s right, you can slice them and dehydrate them too…
More: How To Dehydrate Apple Slices With A Dehydrator

Example: Chicken breast goes on sale. Maybe it’s time to make dehydrated chicken strips!
More: Homemade Dehydrated Chicken Strips
More: Safe Jerky Temperature In A Home Dehydrator


Maintains Nutrition

Note: Fresh food that has been dehydrated may be significantly more nutritious than having purchased canned processed food with all those added non-pronounceable ingredients.

More: Dehydrated Food: Testing Dryness And How To Know When It’s Done

Note: Consuming dehydrated foods will not be the same as eating them fresh. They can be reconstituted to an extent, but there’s nothing like fresh veggies… Just saying.

Another popular food dehydrator:
Nesco Food Dehydrator


  1. I have one of the Nesco Dehydrator’s I love this thing, I also have 4 extra trays for it, the 4-5 it comes with are not enough.
    Also get the Jerky Extruder for it, I make a ground meat jerky (sometimes a variety of mixed meats) that’s out of this world, and at about 1/10 the cost of store bought Jerky. Storing in Mason Jars vacuum sealed is the only way to go.
    I have NO idea how long it will keep, it never last long.
    One hint I will pass along, get some nylon window screen material, cut to fit the Trays, it will keep the smaller ‘stuff’ from falling through the trays.

    1. Is funny, i have one too but have yet to use it for food, i got it to dry brass, have a stainless steel media wet tumbler and if i dump the brass in the dehydrator and run it a few hours the brass is dry and like brand new clean in and out,,,,

  2. I love to make fruit salad tossed in fresh herb simple syrup to bring to pot-lucks. If there’s any left over, it goes into the dehydrator for snacking on later. It’s like candy!

  3. I have my “Old Reliable” Nesco, had it for 16 years, added extra trays and screens.
    Also have a used Excaliber, but actually use my Nesco more.
    Love both of them – have shelves of pint and quart jars of dehydrated Vegetables, Mushrooms, Herbs, you name it, packed with with O2 absorbers.
    Using some stuff that is over 5 years old – still good.

  4. My dehydrator runs almost constantly during the late summer preserving herbs, extra veggies we can’t use up or give away, and apples from our trees. I think I got it at a yard sale years ago, and have used it A LOT.

  5. Our dehydrator is the same as Ken’s unit. When I have time will make western style jerky, it is peppery but not real salty which I like. Most if the items which I would process this way were mixed frozen veges for using in soups. Sliced potatoes blanched then dehydrated cuts down on the processing time of cooking scallop potato recipes. Not a fan of half cooked potatoes in those dishes.

    Best way I have found for storing long/longer term vegetables is vacuum sealing with glass canning jars. Placing in a dark cool room, found a jar of potatoes processed this way and they were still good after 3+ years. Everything which was not vacuum sealed was nasty and we tossed it.

  6. I have a Nesco with 12 trays and a Ronco that no longer works (the heating unit went out) but I put it out in the sun and it’s just fine. I still end up using my car.

  7. I have a L’equip. Had to check the name. It is great and I also use it a lot, especially when I am out of room in the freezer and don’t want to can. And the jerky is great especially using a London Broil with my special marinade.

  8. We have an Excalibur and don’t use it nearly as much as we should! Have had to experiment with proper storage of the dehydrated food, and gone through trial and error as to if the food in question is dehydrated enough to store, but when we hit that magic combination of properly dehydrated and stored… it’s GREAT!

    1. I have an Excalibur too, love it, like you folks dont use it half as much as i should.
      I make a bangin vennison jerky with a friend of mines recipe, great recipe,,,
      Have done tons of dehydrated banannas, they are great, love em, also done dehydrated sweet corn and onions, both are good and quite useful, tried other stuff too, pineapple is yums, mango too, delicious, havent had much luck with strawberries, but i think they were too close to off so didnt come out like i thought they would,

  9. I actually have schematics and purchased a book about solar dehydrators.
    I have to get off my keester and build the thing. Of course by the time I get done with it and build to the scale and specs I want to build it to…. It will cost more than one of those NEsco dehydrators.
    Oh well….
    FYI on DIY – The book I purchased on the subject is THE SOLAR FOOD DRYER by Eben Fodor.
    This is part of my Level IV Prepping.

  10. We also have a Nesco unit and are very pleased with it .We have had it 3 years . We did purchase additional trays , as it only comes with four. If you are in the PNW area , Bi-Mart has them on sale for $ 39.99 at this time .
    We do apple slices, dried plums, diced & sliced potatoes, diced carrots and diced onions. NRP , thanks for the heads up on nylon screen material for the trays . We will try the jerky maker , it sounds good .

  11. Love your photos. For me, it is much easier to visualize myself making something if I can see a photo someone (you) has done.

    I have one, and have used it on and off for yrs. Not nearly as much as you, but it is a wonderful thing to have.

  12. I know I have mentioned it before but for newbies I will post it again. Outside the obvious things to dehydrate. You can dehydrate ketchup (catsup), hot sauce, taco sauce, mustard, BBQ sauce etc. For the folks with a pantry that’s getting full. You can save some space by dehydrating some of these things. Celery tops for tuna or chicken salad. We make tomato powder. Onion and garlic powder or salt. We have also made dill pickle salt. And dehydrated pickle relish. Experiment.. Think outside the box.

  13. We just got a Breville smart oven that has a dehydration function. I have made a lot. of spices.

  14. Don’t remember what brand my dehydrator is, it’s packed away in the shed for the winter, but it has 8 trays. Guess I’d better get it out soon, it won’t be long till stuff starts coming in season. I mainly use it to dehydrate fruit, as I have a fair amount of fruit trees. I have a very good plum tree, and two years ago I did a pile of prunes from it. They were so sweet and delicious, that I must have eaten two-thirds of a quart of them. Well, it didn’t take too long and guess what? Yep! I spent a lot of time in the bathroom. I made it a rule to eat them in moderation now. I really haven’t tried to do vegetables, but I think I’ll give it a try this year.

    1. The best way to do vegetables is to buy frozen corn, carrot dices, peas; and vacuum seal them after they are dried. They will last forever, they will rehydrate in boiling water but pressure cooked is best.

  15. Wow. great article and discussion. I have always wondered about the dried meat/salmonella issue, glad to hear that my Nesco takes care of heating to 155F to rid the meat of any disease. I had been thinking that soaking all that venison and elk in teriyaki was what killed the bacteria in my jerky. Also might add that I have used plastic mesh used for cross-stitching for screens for the Nesco. seemed to work just fine.

  16. I guess i’m lucky, found my American Harvestor dehydrator in a Goodwill store for 5 bucks. Bought extra trays (two were more than I paid for the dehydrator, of course) and use it frequently. Summers mainly fruit and winter times I make veggies I buy frozen when the store have them on sale. I also have an stove oven that dehydrates at 140 degrees. I just finished a large batch of thin sliced kidneys. Bought them for a dollar a pound and will use them for dog treats. However, I did try one and if you like the taste of kidneys they will do for jerkey. No spice just kidney. I have several more pounds to do and have decided to make trays inserts out of 1/2 screen and put the slices on that instead of parchment. Allowing the air to circulate will dry more evenly.

    1. On the dehydrators, …at re sale shops…Watch for one called the Jerky maker.. its motor is on top. retail is about 60$…and so much easier to clean… no liquids drop into the motor housing…. It is round, and I do need to rotate the trays, after 4 hours…and stir… I have 4 trays from another unit that I can make work with mine, if i use them close to the bottom of stack) and it comes with 6 trays… so effectively gives me 10 trays…
      Don’t forget if you have canned goods that are going out of date… these can be rinsed( to remove as uch of salt as you canor they will be too salty) and dehydrated… for extra long life… I put about 7 15 oz cans of string beans in one pint jar…These I use for soups Like others i do dehysrated frozen veggies in mine for soup mix.. and I add varieties of butterpeas and extra string beans , thereby reducing our corn ratio for our preferred mix….I pack in oxygen free jars.. glass are best, and longer shelf life is the result over any of the plastic jars… I use plastic jars for short term storage…only.
      Also left over rice that has been cooked can be effectively dried and used for instant rice in recipes../to thicken soups or to grind into rice flour…

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